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Crew are a bunch of addicts

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We will die young or kill ourselves, says study

At 196 pages it can be daunting, but the Entertainment Assist report ‘Working in the Australian Entertainment Industry’ should be mandatory reading before anyone works on or off a stage.

The study was run by academics at Victoria University and tested a sample of over 2,000 performers, crew and support workers. Included were 119 lighting crew and 128 audio crew.

We’re a poorly paid bunch, with average earnings well under 60 grand for 62% of us. Most of us, (19%) earned under 20 grand which proves the casual and freelance lifestyle is no cakewalk.

Professional jealousy isn’t on stage either, it goes to the fact that to be chosen for a gig, someone else misses out.

We love drugs and alcohol too, 32% of us have had a mental illness and 23% of us have used Meth/amphetamines in the past year, of them a quarter are addicted. “I can work all night without blinking”, was a comment. Cocaine use is running at 12 x the national average, yet we are paid well under average wages and many of us are under the poverty line.

But the data on suicide is the wakeup call, with insane levels of ‘ideation’ for the last 12 months (average 19% of us, verses 2.3% of the general population) and average 33% of us over our lifetimes (v 13% of the general population.)

Suicide planning runs at almost 20%, and a staggering 6% of us have had an actual attempt.

What happens next? Susan Cooper is the General Manager of Entertainment Assist who commissioned the report. She says we need an industry alliance, to take ownership of the issue. “At the front end we need education, to develop curriculum and roll them out, help build a sense of resilience. We need to look at work place practices, and develop support networks.

ENTECH Roadshow will provide a platform for this across all five cities in the February tour.

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